I recently received an update from the AzCDL about a proposed piece of legislation. Here’s a quick summary, as quoted from the email notice:
HB 2439 provides for an alternative 4 hour CCW course, dealing only in legal issues, mental conditioning, and judgmental shooting decisions, for qualified individuals who can show proof of prior firearms training, such as:
- Completion of an NRA pistol course.
- Completion of pistol related courses at the college level, or at places like Front Sight, Gunsite, etc.
- Completion of certain law enforcement training.
- Current military service or an honorable discharge.
- A competitive rating or ranking in an organized shooting competition.
- A CCW permit from another jurisdiction that required training or testing to obtain.
I’m a bit conflicted about such a measure. While I’m a huge advocate of CCW and advocate for Vermont/Alaska-style carry (where no permit or state approval is necessary, so long as one is a law-abiding person), measures like this trouble me by setting different standards for people.
I’m a firm believer in training, and encourage everyone who owns a gun to seek training in the safe handling and use of their arms. That said, I believe that such training should be encouraged, but not mandatory. I think that most reasonable people will agree that the use of force, including lethal force, in self-defense is justified if and only if a bad guy poses a clear and present danger of serious bodily injury or death.
However, if the state wishes to require reasonable training prior to issuing CCW permits, so be it. However, such training must meet a clearly-articulated standard. NRA pistol courses are great, but they don’t cover “legal issues, mental conditioning, and judgmental shooting decisions” specific to armed self-defense. Neither does having served in the military — I’ve served in the military as a tank crewman and was routinely armed with a pistol. The pistol training offered by the army was basic at best, mostly covering the mechanical aspects of the gun and how to shoot a basic course of fire. No shoot/no-shoot training, and certainly no other training that would be relevant to a civilian self-defense scenario. Honestly, I was surprised at how little weapons training the army did.
Being a competitive shooter also doesn’t meet those standards. While some aspects of competitive shooting may exceed the state training requirements, competitions rarely cover the legal aspects that the state presently requires. Sure, action shooting can prove useful, but it’s not a self-defense training course.
Again, I’d prefer if training were optional (but strongly encouraged), but so long as the state requires training I think such training should be as uniform as possible. Making exceptions for specific groups of people who, while perhaps trained and skilled in firearm use, haven’t had the same training as other CCW permit holders seems like a bad idea. The only exceptions for the training requirement that I could see would be (a) those with permits from states with substantially similar training requirements and (b) those facing a dire, immediate danger where the time needed to complete a training course would put them in mortal peril. In the latter case, the person should complete the necessary training as soon as practical.
My conflict is between my desire for permitless, Vermont-style carry and the desire that if training is required (as it currently is in Arizona, at least for concealed carry — open carry has no training requirements), that such training be uniform across the entire population of those with permits to carry.